The Oceanside Dragon Boat team practises twice a week on Cameron Lake where they keep their boat at the Cameron Lake Resort.

The Oceanside Dragon Boat team practises twice a week on Cameron Lake where they keep their boat at the Cameron Lake Resort.

New Dragon Boat team in Parksville training for its first race

Organizers say they wanted to create a team that’s open to people in the mid-Island region

They may be a new squad, but the Oceanside Dragon Boat team is off to a good start, according to Mary Connelly.

Connelly, who is one of three organizers, said this new dragon boating team only started early last month.

“We’re just new. We’ve only been in the water a month, so since

May 7, we’re real seasoned,” Connelly said with a laugh. She added that the team practices twice a week.

Connelly said she has been dragon boating since 1998. She added that she was one of the founders of the dragon boating team Abreast of Life based out of Nanoose Bay. Abreast of Life is a team made up solely of breast cancer survivors.

“As a breast cancer survivor,” Connelly said, “basically at that time it was a thread of hope that there is life after breast cancer, but you move forward and it’s giving back to the community because the community was the one that helped sponsor the breast cancer teams.”

Connelly, along with Louise Dawson and Leanne Parson, said they wanted a “local community team in our Oceanside area.”

Connelly said they applied for a grant through the Regional District of Nanaimo, and they were awarded the grant in January. But she added that they started looking into a dragon boat team last year around the late summer/early fall.

The dragon boat, which Connelly said was brought down from Port Hardy, arrived May 7 and the paddlers were in the boat and on the water that same day.

The team is a mix of men and women, according to Connelly, but she added that they’re still looking to fill up the boat. There are team members coming from Nanaimo and Port Alberni.

“In the boat, you actually have 20 paddlers and steers person and a drummer,” Connelly said.

Connelly said a few of the women paddled last year, but there are a few newbies.

“It works really well because your people that have paddled before help out new ones and every time you get a new person on we start over and that’s what it’s about. I mean, we’re a baby team,” Connelly said.

Connelly said if you work together on land, you will work together in the water.

“You don’t have to be good, you just have to have spirit.”

The team practises on Cameron Lake and keeps its boat at the Cameron Lake Resort.

“I came out to see if we could launch the boat here and talk to Louis (Verheyen) at the Cameron Lake Resort because we needed a place first to launch a boat,” Connelly said. “We checked out French Creek and other waters, and we just had to make sure that we were safe.”

Verheyen is the owner of Cameron Lake Resort, and he said when the women showed up to ask if they could use their space, he said he didn’t mind doing it.

“These people are doing good work. I’m glad that I can help out,” Verheyen said.

The dragon boat team has been a community effort, according to Connelly. She said someone from the resort gave a tarp to wrap up the boat, another person bought PVC pipes to help get the boat on and off the beach and the first time they took the boat out, Connelly said people watching on the beach helped to bring the boat in.

Connelly said there’s no goal for a race quite this early on.

“Our goal for this year was to really get enough paddlers to get in the boat, fill the boat, have fun and we might — at the end of the season — do a race,” she said, adding that if the team does plan to race it would be at the end of the summer in Port Alberni.

“You want to have a couple of months under your belt before you head to a race,” Connelly said.

At some point, Connelly said she would like to see youth and young adult teams practising and competing in the area.

To find out more about the team, or to join, call Connelly at 250-248-5824 or Dawson at 250-752-2535.

Just Posted

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station burned to the ground after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van burst into flames just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville will host the 2021 B.C. Junior Golf Championships. (PQB News file photo)
Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville to host 150 of B.C’s top junior golfers

Provincial boys and girls championship begins June 28

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Lake Country firefighters made good use of pet respirators they keep on board June 17, 2021. (District of Lake Country)
PHOTOS: 11 dogs rescued, home destroyed in large blaze in Okanagan

Home deemed a total loss, cause remains unknown but crews thankful for pet respirators

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Most Read